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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

i4         HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

excellence as soldiers, criticized their system as one that made
them unfit to live under freer conditions outside of Sparta.

Though the general effect of the Spartan training was to
crush out individuality, care was taken to make the lads ready-
witted and intelligent in practical affairs. To encourage craftiness,
it was the custom for the Eiren to dispatch the boys under his
charge to steal the firewood and the vegetables for their dinners,
" The herbs of the pot," Plutarch tells us, " they steal where
they can find them, either getting into gardens on the quiet, or
creeping craftily to the common tables. But anyone who is caught
is severely flogged for being careless or clumsy. They steal, too>
whatever victuals they can, when people are asleep or are not
watching properly. When discovered, they are punished not
only by being whipped, but by getting no dinner/'* ^ Again*
they were taught by the Eiren to be ready in judgment* " After
supper," says Plutarch, " he used to order some of the boys to
sing a song> To others he addressed some question that required
a judicious answer, asking, for example, who was the beat man
in the city, or what he thought of some particular action, A
reason had to be given briefly with the answer* The boy who
made a mistake had his thumb bitten by the Eiren by way of
punishment.")

TJut though the Spartan training did develop mental alertness
by such devices as these, it left the citizens with a very narrow
outlook on life. According to Isocrates, the ordinary Spartan
could not read, This is contradicted by Plutarch, who says
that they learned to read for the mere utility of it. Whatever
the truth of this matter be, reading was certainly held in small
esteem among Jhem, and formed no part of the education given
by the State. , ún the same way, literature and art, which meant
so much for the, Athenians, had no place in the educational
system of Sparta., During the centuries when the rest of the
Greeks were developing a wide range of aesthetic and intellectual
interests, the Spartans maintained a stubborn attachment to
their narrow ways, and regarded poetry and the fine arts as
occupations unworthy of a warlike people; and they never
produced a poet or an artist or a philosopher of any note* /Hippiw
the sophist on a visit to Sparta found that all they cared to learn
about was " genealogies of men and heroes* the founding of cities,
* Life ofLycwgus*